- Show more
Buddhism in current diplomacy between China and India
Currently, Buddhism has approximately 470 million followers in the world (Berkley Center, S.F.). In addition, it is recognized as the great Asian philosophy, due to its origin and propagation in the region. The Chinese party congress determined that Buddhism is originally from India, however, China has generated the expansionism of this religion to the Southeast Asian and Japan, evidencing the role that China seeks to have within the Buddhist world, since it can help create aharmonious society (Mathur, 2018). This article makes known the role that religion has had as an influence on foreign policy, focusing on Buddhism as a soft power tool, specifically in the case of China-India.
Religion in the world and in the discipline of international relations
The religious phenomenon has historically been present in political and public life, however, it has been displacing its institutional origin due to the modernization process. The rupture of the religious model promoted the distancing of relations between religion, state and society (González, 2010). However, religion is an actor who participates in the international order as a Soft Power [Footnoteref: 1], although in its origin this term was not associated with religion (Díez, 2018), is currently a relevant element in theForeign policies. Due to its impact on the conduct of diplomacy, religion acts as a bridge facilitating understanding between nations (Saddiki, 2015). Joseph Nye, creator of the term soft power, observes religion in international relations as a tool of persuasive power and refers to the fact that it can be a double -edged sword, where its influence of influence will depend on who handles it (Gözaydın, s s.F.). Jeffrey Haynes mentions that the religious softer encourages actors to modify their political behavior (Öztürk, 2019);which has two aspects, cooperation and/or competition, where both can exert a great political influence (Haynes, 2010). [1: Actor’s ability – A State – to influence the actions and/or interests of other actors based on the attraction and persuasion of their cultural and ideological means (Haynes, 2010) to influence the actions and/or interests (2010). ]
Since the development of the RI as an academic discipline, they emerged on the basis that, factors such as ethnicity and religion have no place within the development of a modern state, ending by banishing the religious variable within their studies. This led to religion to be integrated into cultural studies, without taking into account its great incidence present within government decision makers influenced by their religious beliefs and practices (Chávez, 2015).
The religious factor was delegated by modern thinking as part of the "culture", without taking into account its value within the conduct of the internal and external policy of a state. However, later, the need to recognize religion as a constitutive pillar in the Discipline of the RI (Dosad, 2006) arises.
Soft Power as a public diplomacy in China-India
To understand the development of Buddhism in China and India, we will focus on cultural diplomacy and softer, since cultural diplomacy serves as a soft power resource for states in their foreign policy. Cultural diplomacy is the use of culture – religion – as a diplomacy mechanism, in view of the fact that countries create characteristics from culture to express an international image and from it gain influence and configure bilateral relations (Scott,2016).]
Both China and India see Buddhism as a tool to enhance their soft power. The importance of religion in India has been increasing by the search to revitalize religious tradition and incorporate Buddhism as a cultural force. Meanwhile, China sees Buddhism as a means to appease the discontent present in the Tibet region within Chinese territory and also as a tool to increase its influence in nearby regions through access to Buddhist organizations (Ranade, 2017).
Buddhism in India
India has the opportunity to demand legitimacy in its promotion of diplomacy for a variety of reasons. For example, being the country of origin of the Buddhist faith;It also has a wide variety of places of importance for Buddhism, such as Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Nalanda, and India also projects an image as a Buddhist protector of the persecuted, such as the establishment of Dalai Lama in Dharamshala (Kishwar, 2018).
Prime Minister Modi mentioned that it is time to take into account the potential of Buddhism as Soft Power in the strategy of its foreign relations. An example is Modi’s statements about Buddha, where he publicly accepted the Buddha as reformist, causing Hinduism, being the predominant religion of India, absorbed the Buddhist message, creating a Hindu Buddhism (Scott, 2016). In 2015, the "Hindu-Budist Initiative to avoid conflicts" was inaugurated, organized with the aim of emphasizing the shared relationship between Buddhism and Hinduism as an opportunity for benefit and mutual growth instead of rivalry (Kishwar, 2018).
In another aspect, India has 7 of the 8 most important Buddhist sites in the world, so it seeks to create a "Buddhist circuit" with the aim of being one of the main links with Southeast Asian countries. The geocultural presence of Soft Power Buddhism has facilitated India’s mission to remove Sri Lanka and Myanmar from the Chinese panorama, and also strengthen security cooperation with Mongolia, Vietnam and Japan (Scott, 2016).
Buddhism in China
Under the current leadership, China uses Buddhism as a tool to add Soft Power to its diplomatic relations through the investment of buildings and institutions. This is reflected in the creation of the Nanhai Buddhism Academy, which seeks to promote itself as the Chinese version of the University of Nalanda in India. On the other hand, Patrick Mendis, a UNESCO Commissioner, mentioned that the construction of the Loto Tower in Colombo, Sri Lanka, by China, has symbolic meaning in Buddhism, and is a mechanism for China to create a permanent strategyand Pacific of Soft Power towards the outside world (Dorjee, 2018).
It is evident that China seeks, tactically, through Buddhism, extending the popularity of Chinese Buddhism and in turn show a harmonious image that increases the Chinese incidence with its religious neighbors in order to become the center of the Regional Union under Chinese vision (Scott, 2016).
Buddhism as a cooperative tool
As previously mentioned, Buddhism has become a means of cultural diplomacy based on faith, renewing Asia’s interest in strengthening the ties between the east and southern Asia. Focusing on the Chinese-India case, it is reaffirmed that Buddhist culture has generated historical ties, causing a constant cultural exchange between the two actors and the establishment of a bilateral relationship. This is evidenced by the statements of the Chinese director of the State Administration of Religious Affairs, Ye Xiaowen, and the previous Minister of Foreign Affairs of India, Somanahalli Krishna, where both stressed that Buddhism has been an effective communication bridge between the two countries,A powerful symbol that represents its shared history (Scott, 2016).
An example of Buddhist cooperation between both nations, is the case of the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuan Zang, who arrived in India at 600 D.C. And it was established in Gujarat, India (Natal State of Modi). When the president of China Xi Jinping is invited by the Prime Minister of India Modi to Gujarat in 2014, a historical and cultural close relationship was generated through this Buddhist figure, because Xuan Zang represents the conductive symbol towards Chinese-India diplomacy. Subsequently, a bilateral project was agreed on the temple of the white horse – the first Buddhist temple in China – which acts as a preceding symbol of cultural exchanges (Scott, 2016).
Buddhism as a competition tool
The competitive deployment of Buddhism brings the latent division on the border disputed between China and India. Likewise, you can see how both nations use Buddhism as Soft Power in their diplomatic interactions in countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. To the east, India uses Buddhism as a cultural-civilization link in its relations with Vietnam, Mongolia, South Korea and Japan, with the reason to balance Chinese incidence in the region. In contrast, China’s interests are in the economic incentives that flow to those 4 Buddhist countries (Scott, 2016).
As an illustrative case, we have the Tibet dispute, being a problem where religion and geopolitics divide the Sin-Hindu relationships. When the XIV Dalai Lama flees in 1959 to India, it generates the establishment of the Central Tibetan administration as a banished government in Dharamsala, where it renounces political leadership, but continues as the symbol of the Tibetan cause. The role of India as a sanctuary for Tibetan Buddhist leaders, fleeing for China’s control in 2000. Again it is seen with the 17th Karmap.
Finally, the competition to influence the region is also given through Buddhist organizations. For example, China, in the FBM [Footnoteref: 4] it is presented to the international panorama as the Buddhist world protector;And through this forum, build a profile that seeks to potentiate Chinese Buddhism over the world over Theravada Buddhism and Tibetan (Scott, 2016). As for India, we have the IBC [Footnoteref: 5], where it seeks to project the world that India is the leader and the cradle of Buddhism. At the preliminary meeting of the IBC, they abstained having Chinese delegates, due to the presence of Dalai Lama, further causing friction between Sino-Hindu relations (Scott, 2016).
We can see that religions (in this case Buddhism) despite its temporal exile within the discipline of international relations, silently, have never stopped influencing the international scene. This can be seen illustrated in the use of Buddhism as Soft Power in China and India to establish and grow its bilateral relations, but also as a means of regional competence, where both are looking to obtain the leadership of the Buddhist world to have a greater influenceIn the actions and interests within the region.
In Joseph Nye’s words: "The great powers try to use culture to create Soft Power that improves your image but this is not always easy to sell if you are inconsistent with its domestic reality" (2011, P. 89-90).
- Berkley Center. (s.F.). Demography of Buddhism. Recovered from Berkley Center for Religion,: https: // Berkleycenter.Georgetown.EDU/ESSAYS/DEMOGRAPHICS-OF-BUDDHISM
- Chávez, a. (2015). Religion and international relations: from exile to the construction of a theological internationalist model. Magazine of El Colegio de San Luis, 187-188. Recovered from http: // magazine.Colsan.Edu.mx/index.PHP/COLSAN/ARTICLE/VIEW/613/536
- Díez, m. (2018). Soft religion. Recovered from thenational.cat: https: // www.the National.cat/es/opinion/miriam-diez-soft-religion_298572_102.HTML
- González, J. (2010). Privatization, deinstitutionalization and persistence of religion in Spanish youth. Youth Studies Magazine, 30. Recovered from http: // www.INJUVE.es/sites/default/files/magazine-91-chapter-2.PDF
- Gözaydın, i̇. (s.F.). Religion as soft power in the international relations of turkey. Retrieved from Instituto Per Gi Studi di Polytic Internal: https: // www.ispionline.IT/IT/DOCUMENTS/RELIGIONI/ENJOYDIN_RELIGION%20AS%20SOFT%20POWER%20IN%20THE%20 INTERNATIONAL%20RELATIONS%20OF%20TURKEY.PDF
- Haynes, j. (2010). Causes and Concequences of Transnational Religious Soft Power. Retrieved from India China Institute: https: // www.Semanticscholar.Org/Paper/Causes-And-Consciousness-Off-Transnational-Rign-Haynes/48C4F8C4EB8F5859DC76907907C85642135092BF
- Iranzo, á. (2006). Religion and International Relations. Genealogies. Internal Forum, 41. Recovered from https: // magazines.UCM.It is/index.PHP/FOIN/ARTICLE/VIEW/FOIN0606110039A/7982
- Kishwar, s. (2018). The Rising Role of Buddhism in India’s Soft Power Strategy. Recovered from observer Research Foundation: https: // www.Orfonline.Org/WP-Content/Uploads/2018/02/Orf_issuebrief_228_buddhism.PDF
- Mathur, a. (2018). China uses Buddhism to increase its influence in southern Asia. Recovered from Tibet Office: http: // spanish.Tibetoffice.Org/Salon-of-Notes/Update-of-Notes/China-Use-El-Budismo-For-Increment-Su-Influence-in-the-Sur-De-Asia
- Öztürk, a. (2019). Turkey: An ambivalent religious soft power. Retrieved from Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs: https: // Berkleycenter.Georgetown.EDU/Posts/Turkey-An-Ambivalent-Rign-Soft-Power
- RANADE, J. (2017). Buddhism: a New Frontier in the China-India Rivalry. Carnegie India, 1. Recovered from https: // fellgieendowment.org/files/3172017_ranade_buddhism.PDF
- Saddiki, s. (2015). The role of cultural diplomacy in international relations. Cidob D’Afers Internacion Magazine, 88. Retrieved from https: // sci-hub.tw/https: // www.Jstor.org/stable/40586505?read-right = 1 & seq = 2#page_scan_tab_contents
- Scott, d. (2016). Buddhism in Current China – India Diplomacy. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 3, 139,146-161. Recovered from https: // journals.Giga-Hamburg.of/index.PHP/JCCA/ARTICLE/VIEW/2549/1349
- Steiner, s. (2011). Religious Soft Power As Accountability Mechanism for Power in World Politics: The Interfaith Leaders ’Summit (S). Sage Journals. Recovered from https: // journals.SAGEPUB.com/doi/pdf/10.eleven